Music Video of the Day: Prince Charming by Adam & The Ants (1981, dir. Mike Mansfield & Adam Ant)


From the book, I Want My MTV:

Steven Levy, writing in Rolling Stone, unfavorably compared “superficial, easy-to-swallow” acts such as Adam Ant to Bob Dylan.

You’d think having discovered Einstein’s brain in 1978 would have made him more open-minded. No really, he did. It’s worth reading his story about it.

He said some other things concerning MTV, which included quoting Dr. Thomas Radecki about the dangers of music videos. You might remember him as the guy who attacked the music video for Street Of Dreams by Rainbow because of the brainwashing psychiatrist, among other things. The guy who said people were killing themselves and others over D&D. He had his medical license revoked in 1992 because of conduct with a patient. More recently he was caught in a opiates scandal. Probably not the best source in hindsight.

Perhaps that’s why there is only one article on Rolling Stone’s website by Levy. Or they just thought the one on Steve Jobs was the only one worth putting up online.

He has gone on to do better things after the 80s–along with doing good things back then as well. He appears to have lightened up on his condemnation of MTV as early as 1992.

I just thought I’d include that since I find it hilarious to think that anyone ever thought up the idea to compare Adam Ant, or any similar act, to Bob Dylan. I don’t care if the context was commercialism using Adam Ant’s persona as a way of contrasting someone known for lyrics with someone known for their look in order to say that marketing had won out over the songs themselves. The comparison still makes me laugh.

So here’s a video that seems to imply that the Adam Ant persona is a combination of Clint Eastwood…

Alice Cooper…

Rudolph Valentino…

and Douglas Fairbanks (also Adam Ant’s character from the video for Stand And Deliver).

We get Diana Dors showing up as his fairy godmother, backed up by some guys who a year later would wear even less clothes for It’s Raining Men by The Weather Girls.

Back to I Want My MTV:

Adam Ant: My strategy for making videos was sex, subversion, style, and humor.

I’d say he accomplished that here. I particularly like that we don’t get the typical ending of Cinderella. The change appears to be permanent–from someone who is pushed around and shy to someone that is confident being themselves. We never see him pair up with anyone. He stands alone because the point isn’t to find love based on shoe size. It’s finding yourself when you take out what other people think of you from the equation.

The video is listed as being directed by both Mike Mansfield and Adam Ant. Mansfield did a bunch of late-70s and early-80s music videos.

Stephanie Gluck, or Stephanie Coleman as it is on Wikipedia, was the one responsible for the Prince Charming dance. Wikipedia says that the dance was arranged to mean Pride, Courage, Humour, and Flair (in that order).

There’s an archive of a fan site that that has some additional information. I can’t confirm enough of it, so I just included the link. However, it is interesting to note that both it, and Wikipedia state that one of the characters that Adam Ant plays is Vito Corleone. That isn’t in here. I guess that was removed for some reason.

Adam Ant and Rolf Harris came to an arrangement over money because of the similarities between Harris’ song, War Canoe, and Prince Charming. I can hear it, but then again, you can listen to the Canoe Song, where Adam Ant says they both drew inspiration from, and hear the same similarities. They’re just not as strong. I can understand why they would come to an agreement over it.

Finally, after the way I began this post, I think it’s worth looking at these quotes–two from Levy in a 1992 New York Times article and one from Adam Ant in I Want My MTV:

Levy: We’ve all gotten used to the junkification of America life — to the fact that you can now eat McDonald’s and that 50 years from now, we may even be nostalgic about it.

Levy: They’ve also gotten more critical of, and more of a sense of humor about, themselves.

Adam Ant: In its initial form, video was a revolution. Then MTV became worse than the record companies, and that’s fucking saying something. It became very decadent, like ancient Rome in a way. It was all about who you knew, and how many bottles of champagne you sent them. It began as a tough, groundbreaking, sexy, subversive, stylish thing with a sense of humor. Then it became all business.

The two of them only differ in age by 3 years, so we’re not talking about a generation gap.

Enjoy!

Halloween Havoc!: Joan Crawford in BERSERK (Columbia 1967)


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Last year I looked at Joan Crawford’s final film  TROG  during “Halloween Havoc” month, where she played an anthropologist.  This time around, Joan stars in her first movie for schlockmeister Herman Cohen, BERSERK, in which she’s in a more believable role as a circus owner/ringmaster whose big top is plagued by a series of gruesome murders.

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The film starts off with the grisly death of high wire artist Gaspar the Great, whose tightrope breaks, causing him to die from hanging. Frank Hawkins, better known as The Magnificent Hawkins, arrives soon after and replaces Gaspar with his own death-defying act, walking the tightrope while blindfolded over a row of steel spikes. Circus owner Monica Rivers loves the publicity from Gaspar’s demise, which turns off her lover/business partner Durando. Soon Monica takes up with Frank, and Durando winds up with a spike driven through his head!

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The circus acts think there’s a madman among them…

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“It’s A Shame To Get It Shot Full Of Holes.” Hannie Caulder (1971, directed by Burt Kennedy)


hannie-posterA century before Beatrix Kiddo killed Bill and The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, there was Hannie Caulder.

Hannie Caulder (played by Raquel Welch) lives at a horse station on the Texas/Mexico border.  When the outlaw Clemmons brothers — Emmett (Ernest Borgnine), Frank (Jack Elam), and Rufus (Strother Martin) — arrive at the station following a disastrous bank robbery, they brutally murder her husband and take turns raping her.  After setting the station on fire, the Clemmons Brothers leave Hannie for dead.

What they do not realize is that Hannie has managed to crawl out of the burning building.  The next day, when a bounty hunter named Thomas Luther Price (Robert Culp) approached the burned out remains of the station, Hannie begs him to teach her how to shoot a gun.

“If I taught you the gun,” Tom says, “you’d go out and get your ass shot off!”

“It’s my ass!” Hannie replies.

“It’s a shame to get it shot full of holes,” Tom says, “It’s as pretty a one as I’ve ever seen.”

Tom refuses to teacher her how to handle a gun but he does allow her to ride with him.  Before she mounts Tom’s second horse, Hannie sees that there is a body lying across the saddle.  “I hope you don’t mind riding with a dead man,” Tom says.

After Tom realizes that she was raped, he agrees to her how to shoot.  But first, he takes her into Mexico to meet a former Confederate gunsmith named Bailey so that Bailey can make her a gun.  Bailey is played by Christopher Lee.  In a career that spanned 70 years, Hannie Caulder was the only Western that Christopher Lee ever appeared in.  At first, it’s strange to see Christopher Lee in a Western, using his Winchester rifle to gun down a group of bandits who threaten his family.  But Lee is a natural and eventually, you stop seeing him as Dracula in a western and you just see him as Bailey.

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As Bailey and Tom watch Hannie practice her shooting, Bailey says, “Fine-looking woman.”

“She wants to be a man,” Tom responds.

Bailey nods.  “She’ll never make it.”

As an actress, Raquel Welch was often miscast in roles that were only meant to highlight her looks.  She was always at her best when she played tough characters who were not afraid to fight and Hannie is one of her toughest.  While the film certainly takes advantage of her appearance (she spends a good deal of it wearing nothing but a poncho), Welch also gives one of her best performances.  Even with Culp, Borgnine, Elam, and Martin acting up a storm, she more than holds her own.  She not only looks good with a gun but she knows how to use it too.

Though the film was obviously influenced by the violent Spaghetti westerns that were coming out of Italy at the time, Hannie Caulder was directed by Hollywood veteran Burt Kennedy.  Kennedy was best known for comedic westerns like Support Your Local Sheriff  and Hannie Caulder awkwardly mixes drama with comedy.  Scenes of the Clemmons Brothers bickering and grizzled old west types doing a double take whenever Hannie walks by are mixed with Peckinpah-style violence and flashbacks of Hannie being raped.  If the film had a director more suited to the material, it could have been a classic but under Kennedy’s direction, the end result is uneven but always watchable.

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Embracing the Melodrama Part II #17: Good Time Girl (dir by David MacDonald)


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The 1948 film Good Time Girl is currently available on Netflix and I have to admit that, based on the name alone, I was expecting it to be another somewhat campy exploitation film about juvenile delinquency, something along the lines of Damaged Lives and Gambling With Souls.

And that’s certainly how the film began.  A troubled teenager named Lyla (Diana Dors) has been arrested and is sent to the juvenile court where the concerned Miss Thorpe (Flora Robson) tells Lyla that if she doesn’t change her ways, she could end up just like Gwen Rawlings.  Who is Gwen Rawlings?  That’s what we spend the rest of this short film finding out.

The film shows how Gwen (Jean Kent) was raised in an abusive household and how, at the age of 16, she ran way from home.  The first person she met was the handsome and charming Jimmy (Peter Glenville) who turns out to be a low-level gangster.  (His pinstrip suit and mustache give him away.)  Jimmy gets Gwen a job as a hat-check girl at a club run by the enigmatic Maxey (Herbert Lom).  Gwen meets and falls in love with a musician named Red (Dennis Price) but Red explains that he’s not only too old for her but he’s married as well.  Soon, Gwen is living with Jimmy and Jimmy is regularly abusing her.  When Maxey sees that Jimmy has given her a black eye, he has Jimmy beaten up and fired.  Jimmy responds by slashing Maxey’s face and then framing Gwen for jewelry theft.

Gwen is sent to reform school, where she falls under the influence of the somewhat demonic Roberta (played, in a genuinely menacing performance, by Daniel Day-Lewis’s mother, Jill Balcon).  Reform school only succeeds in making Gwen tougher and angrier.  When a mini-riot breaks out in the cafeteria, Gwen takes advantage of the confusion and escapes.

Back on the streets and with the police searching for her, Gwen falls in with a succession of different criminals.  When she meets two military deserters, it leads to the type of tragedy that could just as easily befall Lyla if Lyla doesn’t change her ways.

This is one of those films where the worst possible thing that could happen always happens and, as a result, it’s all rather melodramatic.  But, as opposed to a film like Reefer Madness or Sex Madness, it never gets so melodramatic that it becomes implausible.  Instead, it’s actually a very watchable portrait of people living on the margins of acceptable society.  Director David MacDonald fills the screen with menacing images and the pace never lags.  The film is also full of great performances from character actors that you’ll probably recognize from countless Hammer horror films.  Herbert Lom is especially impressive as the quietly intimidating Maxey.

I wasn’t expecting much from Good Time Girl but it’s definitely worth watching.